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Since the inception of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange in 2008, full traceability back to the specific farmer has been limited to large estates capable of exporting their own produce. Beginning in 2012, however, Royal Coffee and YCFCU began a program of separating single farm lots from the larger Coop blends. These are farmers who had been cited in nearly every case as “model farmers” for others to emulate, and these individuals are in general leaders of their communities.

Initially this program was centered on the two Gedeb district Coops – Worka and Banko Gotiti – and only featured natural processed coffees. It has now grown to include all of Gedeb (Banko Dhadhato and Halo Bariti being two other areas), as well as several cooperatives in Dilla and Kochere districts such as Adame Garbota, Dama, and Hafursa. Furthermore, there are now multiple fully washed lots from farmers with their own processing mills.

The requirements for acceptance and continued participation in this program are adherence to a strict farming, milling, and drying regimen. Max makes yearly farm visits and Haile Andualem, our representative on the ground in Ethiopia, participates in regular communication with the farmers to verify these practices are followed. This is an essential component to this program. It just wouldn’t work without clear lines of communication.

Finally, cup quality must be assessed, and only lots at 89 points or higher make the cut. The premiums paid here are higher than for the already super high quality, expensive Coop lots. The rate of return from the FOB sale price to the farmer is also a lot higher: nearly 80%. Plenty of farmers want to participate due to this fact; this means our standards need to be even higher, and communicated even more clearly.

Unfortunately, this year we had to reject the coffee of a farmer we’d worked with since the very beginning, Alemayu Alako, whose son Tesfaye was the subject of an interview we published two years ago. Alako was unfortunately not drying his coffee properly; he was prioritizing volume and spreading the cherries too thick on the drying tables. This leads to uneven drying and improper selection for ripeness. We have addressed these issues through direct communication with Tesfaye, but we can’t stop there. We want to reinvest the proceeds from this project to help farmers like Alako who face logistical challenges such as limited drying table space which negatively impact quality.

Not to bang our own drum too hard here, but this is exactly why the coffee world needs the good Middlemen capable of seeing the bigger picture and aligning resources with the preferences (and ever-more demanding standards) of the international specialty market. While it is hard to reject the coffee of a friend, it is necessary in order to maintain the integrity of the program so that we do not lose sight of the final goals: Pay the highest possible price for the best possible quality, and make sure those premiums make it back to the farmer so the cycle is mutually reinforcing. This is #OpenSourceCoffee in action. Join us.­­

There are too many of these wonderful coffees to list. Below you can find a small sample of them. Contact us today for a full list of these traceable Ethiopian gems.

aberagedela11
37277-1 – ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE 1 ORGANIC NATURAL ABERA GEDELA GRAINPRO
This coffee is produced by Abera Gedela and processed as a separate micro-lot at the Worka Cooperative where Abera is a founding member. The Worka cooperative is located in the southern district of Gedeb, Ethiopia. Click the link above to read more.

bekelekursenat3
37275-3W – ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE 1 ORGANIC NATURAL BEKELE KURSE GRAINPRO
This coffee is produced by Bekele Kurse and processed as a separate lot at the Worka Cooperative where Bekele Kurse is a member. Click the link above to read more.

danbiuddo3
37278-3 – ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE 1 ORGANIC FULLY WASHED ZELELU ARARSO GRAINPRO
This coffee is produced by Zelelu Ararso and processed as a separate lot at the Addis Katema Cooperative where Zelelu Ararso is a member. Click the link above to read more.

gelgelu1
37278-1 – ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE 1 ORGANIC NATURAL GELGELU EDEMA GRAINPRO
This coffee is produced by Gelgelu Edema and processed as a separate lot at the Worka Cooperative where Gelgelu Adema is a member. Click the link above to read more.

wondimu
37276-2 – ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE 1 ORGANIC NATURAL WONDIMU AUNU GRAINPRO
This coffee is produced by Wondimu Aunu and processed as a separate lot at the Banko Gotiti Cooperative where Wondimu Aunu is a member. Click the link above to read more.

bedhatu33
37276-1 – ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE 1 ORGANIC NATURAL BEDHATU JIBICHO GRAINPRO
This coffee is produced by Bedhatu Jibicho and processed as a separate micro-lot at the Banko Gotiti Cooperative where Bedhatu is a member. Click the link above to read more.